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Teaching takes practice

Posted by on July 6, 2006

my class
Last week, I taught a music camp at Maranatha Christian Center. Originally I was told that I would have a helper, but no helper came on Monday morning. I had 9 kindergarten-age children in my camp. It turned out that they couldn’t pay for a helper since I had so few kids…so I ended up just teaching by myself. My family helped out quite a bit, though; they came in almost every day to play for the kids.

Monday was voice day, and I also gave them an introduction to the orchestra. Tuesday was percussion day – Stephen came in and gave a demonstration on his drums. They were SO captivated by the drums, and it was wonderful! Wednesday was woodwind day, so my mom played clarinet for them and Becca played flute. Thursday was strings day – I played violin and fiddle for them. And Friday was brass day – my dad came and played his trumpet.

By Wednesday, I was really discouraged. All day long I felt like I couldn’t control them except by yelling at them. I’m sure it wasn’t as crazy as I thought, but it sure felt like it to me. I was so exhausted every day when I got home, and I couldn’t wait till the week was over. Then Wednesday night, something changed. I still do not know quite what happened, but I was thinking about Thursday. Thursday was strings day, and since I was the special guest, my family wouldn’t be coming in to help me at all – I would be all alone. The kids had loved so much having different people come in, and I didn’t want them to be bored with me. So I got an idea…

I decided that I would invite Aunt Miranda to come play violin and fiddle for them. (If you don’t know, Aunt Miranda is a really silly character in a book I wrote.) I brought a silly red hat and spoke in a silly voice with a weird accent. The kids LOVED it! You should have seen their faces! They were just sitting there looking at me and watching everything! It was amazing. Aunt Miranda worked like a charm. They even begged me to let her come back during craft time, so she helped them make their box guitars.

It also helped that I had learned better how to control them. (I know it sounds dumb, but I actually looked up disciplining techniques online.) The most helpful thing I found was that you should try to say “please” and “thank you” a lot, and you have to be kind but firm. Disciplining is supposed to be a teaching tool; yelling and screaming at them doesn’t teach them anything. I know I still have A LOT to learn about this, but just that definitely helped. They actually listened to me, and I found myself not as frustrated with them as I had been.

Man, I have a long ways to go before I will be a good teacher. But it was definitely a fun experience for me to teach these kids. On Friday we had a short concert and sung our Bible verse songs that I had taught them throughout the week. There were only 5 at the concert; Friday’s attendance was very low. But it went well. I think I was more nervous than they were! haha But it was fun, and I still love kindergarteners. :)

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